Ever since Bessie Smith's powerful voice conspired with the "race records" industry to make her a star in the 1920s, African American writers have memorialized the sounds and theorized the politics of black women's singing.
This revised and expanded biography debunks many of the myths that have circulated since her untimely death in 1937. Writing with insight and candor about the singer's personal life and career, the author supplements his research with dozens of interviews with her relatives, friends, and associates--in particular Ruby Walker Smith, a niece by marriage who toured with Bessie for over a decade.
Video, 58 min. CA Newsreel, 1989.
Wild Women Don't Have the Blues shows how the blues were born out of the economic and social transformation of African American life early in this century. It recaptures the lives and times of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters and the other legendary women who made the blues a vital part of American culture.